Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Heated Republican State House Primary

Early voting opens Thursday, April 19 for the May 8 primary. So far most of the races have been pretty quiet. There are no statewide races on the primary ballot. On the Republican ballot, the only countywide race is for sheriff, where Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes is being challenged by Steve Parr. The Democrats have been fired up since their big losses in 2016, and it is reflected in the primary where there are a total of three countywide races and primaries in both the 6th and 13th congressional districts. One race where the candidates are making some...

Read More

City’s Cafe Europa Story Has Some Holes

The good news is that Cafe Europa will be staying right where it is – in the city-owned Cultural Center building on Davie Street. The bad news is that the city wasn’t completely honest about why Jakub Pucilowski, who owns the restaurant, had to go through a request for proposal (RFP) process, which opened the lease up to anyone who wanted to bid on it. I was told that putting leases out for an RFP when they expire was the current policy of the city. The example given was the Gillespie Park grill. When that lease and the renewals...

Read More

Localized Tornado Disrupts Entire City

In all the news coverage of the severe thunderstorms and tornados that caused so much damage in east Greensboro late Sunday afternoon, I haven’t seen anything about the damage to the White Street Landfill. Somebody asked me how a landfill could be damaged, particularly a closed landfill. But although the White Street Landfill is closed to municipal solid waste – what most of us call garbage – it is where the city takes yard waste, like limbs and downed trees, and construction debris. So along with everything else the city had to do on Monday, April 16, it had...

Read More

Under the Hammer: April 19, 2018

Finally something all Americans can agree on: Former Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta said that former FBI Director Jim Comey was an idiot, “an honest idiot but … an idiot” in an interview on CNN. Trump supporters have no use for Comey, so if Hillary Clinton supporters have no use for him either, maybe the entire country can agree that Comey was a horrible FBI director who deserved to get fired. President Donald Trump has gotten himself in a bad spot by not making the right decisions as president-elect and now it’s nearly impossible to go back and fix them. Trump should have fired Comey on Jan. 20, and it seems likely that at least some of his advisors made that recommendation. He was trying to appear above the fray and wasn’t going to hold Comey responsible for his impossible-to-defend decision not to run an actual investigation of the Hillary Clinton email scandal. Then Trump doubled down on his mistake by allowing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from a pivotal issue for the Trump presidency – the investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Trump should have known that Sessions was going to recuse himself. If he didn’t, he should have immediately gotten rid of Sessions for not being honest with him during his interviews. Trump was and appears to still be tremendously naive about...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: April 19, 2018

Preservation Greensboro Julian Price House Tour Tours of the Julian Price House in Fisher Park continue through Sunday, April 29. The general admission tours are $35 each and a guided tour is $75. To find out more, go to https://preservationgreensboro.org/hillside/. The April Schmoozefest is Thursday, April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Loaded Grape at 2915 Battleground Ave. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all
business professionals who sign in and wear a name tag while supplies last. ***** Here’s some good news for Greensboro residents: Because of the severe storms and tornado on Sunday, the...

Read More

City Council Mini Work Session Gets in the Weeds over Boards and Commissions

The Greensboro City Council opened its small group meetings or mini-work sessions to the public and held its first mini work session on Tuesday, April 10.   The meeting was to discuss boards and commissions appointed by the City Council, about as mundane a topic as imaginable. With all that is going on in Greensboro right now, spending one of its rare work sessions on boards and commissions is an odd choice. Both parking deck projects much ballyhooed by the City Council as moving the downtown forward are in limbo. There is no signed contract to begin work on either...

Read More

Counsultant Says City Legally Discriminates

I have never been a big fan of the Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise program, mainly because I have always said that it was designed to discriminate against people who look like me. City Councilmembers and city staff have not agreed and often told me it was not designed to discriminate against anyone. So it was somewhat refreshing to hear the report by Rodney Strong of Griffin & Strong on the recently completed MWBE disparity study prepared for the City of Greensboro because he made no bones about the program being a program that discriminates. The report was given at the City Council work session held in the Council Chambers last week. As Strong noted, MWBE programs are legal discrimination. The federal courts have ruled that because of discrimination and disparity in awarding contracts it is legal to discriminate in favor of those who have been discriminated against. It seems obvious that if a program gives special privileges based on race and gender that it discriminates, but local officials don’t like to admit that the program discriminates in favor of minorities and females and against white males. The purpose of the disparity study is to prove that there is disparity in the way Greensboro does business, which provides the legal justification for Greensboro to encourage discrimination in favor of minorities and women. The disparity study, of course, proved that...

Read More

Under the Hammer: April 12, 2018

It’s hard to believe the Facebook scandal is a scandal at all. How did people think that Facebook came to be worth over $50 billion dollars allowing anybody to post nearly anything for free? Did they think that if they posted something about a lost dog and suddenly had ads appearing about dog care, dog food and invisible fences that it was an accident? When the campaign of former President Barack Obama bragged about using Facebook data to target voters, it was hailed as the campaign of the future. When Republicans do the same thing, it’s cause for a congressional investigation. Why is Congress investigating a company for allowing Republicans to do what Democrats had already bragged about doing and there was no investigation? Obama last ran in 2012 – almost six years ago – when his team gathered vast amount of data about Facebook users. Then four years later, the Trump campaign did something similar. So in the four years between the Obama campaign and the Trump campaign, Facebook didn’t bother to fix the problem. Or perhaps Facebook didn’t see it as a problem when it was used by Democrats and it only became a problem that required Mark Zuckerberg to put on a suit and go to Washington to apologize because Republicans had figured out how to do the same thing. What seems incredible is people actually...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: April 12, 2018

It turns out old politicians never go away, they just go out to lunch with each other.   Former City Councilmembers Tony Wilkins and Mike Barber had lunch Tuesday and posted this photo on my Facebook page. It received over 30 comments and most of them were pretty nice. Fortunately, Facebook didn’t realize that they had been the two most conservative members of the City Council or it would have probably been blocked. ***** The April Schmoozefest is Thursday, April 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Loaded Grape at 2915 Battleground Ave. Free snacks, beer and wine will be...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: April 5, 2018

The Julian Price House in Fisher Park – which was already famous and made much more famous when an episode of Hoarders was filmed there – will be open for tours in April. Julian Price was the president of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co. and was the father-in-law of the now much more famous Joe Bryan. The general admission tours are $35 each and a guided tour is $75. To find out what days are available for what tour, go to https://preservationgreensboro.org/hillside/. ***** Politics is nothing if not political. There was an unusually large crowd at the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee meeting on Monday, April 2, at Republican headquarters on High Point Road. The reason for the crowd was an election – but not that election. The Guilford County Republican Party elected Tina Forsberg as the new vice chair of the party. She ran against former Greensboro mayoral candidate John Brown and won by a two-to-one margin. However, in elections like this it all depends on who shows up to vote. Last month at the Guilford County Republican Party Convention, the party voted to grant a waiver to Party Chairman Troy Lawson, who has filed to run for the District 57 seat in the North Carolina House. Party rules call for a chairman to resign if he or she files to run for office. One of the...

Read More

Under the Hammer: April 5, 2018

According to the mainstream media, the Republicans are toast in the 2018 elections, the Democrats are going to sweep into majorities in the House and Senate, impeach Donald Trump and everyone in the world will be smarter, happier and better looking with Trump no longer in the White House. But there is a fly in the mainstream media ointment –the American people, not the mainstream media, make the ultimate political decisions. Trump’s approval ratings have climbed to over 50 percent and he has done this in a most unusual way for a politician: Trump is keeping his campaign promises. Presidents before Trump have whined and complained about the unfair trade practices of China and other countries but have been too timid to do anything about them. Trump doesn’t have a timid bone in his body and he has started a trade feud. At this point the amount of trade involved is far too small to call it a trade war. A trade feud for the US is good because no other country wants to be in the position of not being able to compete in the world’s largest economy. What Trump is requesting from other countries seems fair. It’s basically – we will treat your products the way you treat ours. What Trump says that he is not going to do is allow another country to place higher tariffs...

Read More

Greensboro City Council Town Hall Meeting: Guns, Parking and Panhandling

The City Council chambers were full for the monthly City Council town hall meeting, with the main topic supposed to be gun control; but also on the agenda was a resolution recognizing April 28 as Marty Sheets Day. It turned out that about half the main seating area was filled, not with gun lovers or haters, but with friends and family of Sheets, who died in May 2015 and is best known as a Special Olympian. Sheets, who had Down syndrome, participated in the first Special Olympics in 1968 where he was presented with a gold medal by Eunice...

Read More

Elm Street Business Gets Parking Deck Easement Settlement from City and It’s Not Rocky Scarfone

The Greensboro City Council agreed to a settlement on an easement dispute over the February One Place parking deck and Westin Hotel project. Unfortunately, it was not the easement dispute that is holding up the project. Tuesday, April 3, after much discussion on whether to vote or not, the City Council voted 7 to 1, with 1 recusal, in favor of entering into an agreement with Peters Holding Co., which has an easement across the parking lot where the new parking deck and hotel is to be built. Councilmember Sharon Hightower voted against the motion and Councilmember Justin Outling...

Read More

Good News About Small Group Council Meetings

Mayor Nancy Vaughan says she is going to make the City Council more transparent, which, as she said, is “good news.” The City Council has for years done most of its business in small group meetings. These are meetings of less than five city councilmembers, and since there is not a majority of the City Council present the meetings technically don’t fall under the North Carolina open meetings law. All but the first and the final two discussions of the $126 million bond referendum in 2016 were held in small group meetings. The only information about those meetings available...

Read More

Wide Streets Provide Lots of Options for $25 Million Streetscaping in Downtown Greensboro

I don’t think we are supposed to call what is being planned for the downtown area streetscaping, because the idea is to do much more than that. But streetscaping is what this has always been called in the past so maybe this should be super streetscaping. What is being considered is far different than anything that has been done in Greensboro. At a visioning meeting held by the City of Greensboro and MIG, the consultants for the project, on Tuesday, March 27, some of the ideas that MIG is considering were presented. One factor that makes downtown Greensboro ripe...

Read More

Under the Hammer: March 29, 2018

Last week Congress passed a $1.3 trillion budget and President Donald J. Trump signed the bill that is over 2,000 pages long into law. Congress was given less than 24 hours to read it, so nobody actually knew what was in the bill when they voted for it. It’s an extreme case but it seems to be the way more and more legislation is done. The leadership says vote for it and enough on both sides of the aisle do for it to pass. Because of the ridiculous rules for the Senate, even though the Republicans have a mathematical majority, Republicans can’t pass a bill without Democratic support. Trump called for the Senate to change the rules to a simple majority as the Democrats did for judges when President Barack Obama wanted to get a bunch of extreme leftists appointed to the federal bench. Why the Republicans have not followed suit and expanded that to everything is a mystery that can perhaps be explained by the fact that the Republican Party is not called the stupid party without reason. Both 6th District Congressman Mark Walker and 13th District Congressman Ted Budd voted against the omnibus spending bill, which was appropriately named because it is an enormous spending bill – the second largest ever passed by Congress. Even Obama only had one spending bill that was larger. So much for...

Read More

February One Parking Deck Attracts Detractors

The News & Record has never been one to let the facts get in its way, and it is in the midst of an all-out campaign against the proposed new parking deck and Westin Hotel complex on February One Place because the city can’t prove to the satisfaction of the N&R that a new parking deck is needed downtown. Actually, the parking deck will go over February One Place and, unlike the N&R continues to report, it is one parking deck, not two connected by a walkway. State Sen. Trudy Wade and state Rep. Jon Hardister pushed a bill through the General Assembly that made building one parking deck over the street connecting the property owned by two entities possible. If it were really two parking decks, as the N&R reports, then there was no need for the new state law allowing the city to build one parking deck on two pieces of property. The parking deck will essentially turn February One Place into a tunnel. The N&R has for some reason turned against this parking deck. Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson even wrote a column about how being against the parking deck doesn’t make him a “naysayer.” It appears naysayer is a term reserved for people who oppose projects that Johnson favors, but not for Johnson when he opposes a project others favor. The city threw a huge...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: March 29, 2018

The next Schmoozefest is Thursday, March 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at
the Community Theatre of Greensboro at
520 S. Elm St. There is plenty of parking at the Railyard, which can be entered from Barnhardt or Lewis streets. The entrance to the Schmoozefest is off the alley next to the theater. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all
business professionals who sign in and get a name tag while supplies last. ***** With Greensboro in the hunt for a new city manager, there are some danger signals out there. Riverside, California, a city of about 320,000 – which puts it in the same small city category as Greensboro with over 280,000 in population – is paying its city manager $471,000 a year. Since it seems everything in this country starts in California and moves east, in Greensboro we can expect to more than double the city manager’s salary, which is currently right at $200,000, in the not too distant future. ***** Downtown Greensboro needs more public bathrooms. This conclusion is the result of an exhaustive study I have been working on for the past six months. It’s actually not that exhaustive, but it is fairly constant. The old Investors Title Insurance Building at the end of our alley is being renovated and, by the way, is going to be a great addition to the downtown. The glass...

Read More

Trump Tax Cut Creates Economic Opportunities for East Greensboro

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – which according to the mainstream media primarily benefits those with high incomes – has a provision to create opportunity zones in low-income census tracts. City Councilmember Justin Outling discovered this little publicized program on a trip to Washington, DC, and is anxious to get portions of Greensboro on the list of areas that will qualify for these special tax incentives. The governor of each state has been charged with designating 25 percent of the low-income census tracts in the state as opportunity zones where tax breaks for investors will be available....

Read More

Publix Gets Warm Welcome and Large Incentives from Council

No city councilmember came down from the dais to give the folks from Publix Super Markets a big welcoming hug, but considering how effusive their remarks were it wouldn’t have been surprising if one did. At the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 20, in the Council Chambers, Publix asked for between $14.6 and $17.7 million in incentives, plus $3 million for water and sewer to build a 1.8 million-square-foot plant that will employ over 1,000 people at an average salary of over $42,000. Each city councilmember and Mayor Nancy Vaughan spoke about Publix in glowing terms. The...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: March 22, 2018

The next Schmoozefest is Thursday, March 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at
the Community Theatre of Greensboro at
520 S. Elm St. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all
business professionals who sign in and get a name tag while supplies last. ***** When I started covering local government there was no security. I don’t remember when Greensboro started having security guards at the meetings but I believe it was after 9/11. For years before that there was one undercover police officer who attended meetings. They weren’t very undercover because they always sat in the same seat. Now City Council meetings are staffed by security guards and police officers. If there is any indication that there will be protestors at the meeting, there is also a special police team sitting in their black combat style uniforms downstairs. Times change. The question people should be asking is not whether or not schools should have security, but why don’t they all have security. Then again, if you have law enforcement like the deputy in Parkland, Florida, who stayed safely outside the school with his gun drawn while students and teachers were being shot inside, you might as well not have any. ***** Orson Scott Card’s column on pronunciation, or mispronunciations that are becoming common, reminded me of a student I had in Lisbon who had taught himself to read English....

Read More

Local Preference Policy Presentation Provokes Contentious Debate Among Councilmembers

The City of Greensboro may start giving preference to businesses located in Guilford County when awarding certain contracts. The plan is the brainchild of City Councilmembers Justin Outling and Tammi Thurm. When they suggested at the City Council’s afternoon work session on Tuesday, March 20 that the City Council consider the local preference policy, they were attacked by Councilmembers Sharon Hightower and Goldie Wells. Outling said he had made the suggestion several times and had been told that state law prevented cities from giving a preference in awarding contracts to local companies. However, Outling, who is an attorney with...

Read More

Under the Hammer: March 22, 2018

Why should the special prosecutor be completely unsupervised and have an open ended investigation? Wouldn’t it make more sense if the special prosecutor’s role was more narrowly defined and he answered to someone outside the investigation who could keep him on task? So if, after say 10 months, the special prosecutor had brought in a bunch of people to try and get them to rat out others in the organization and failed at that, he could be given a date to wrap up the investigation. If Robert Mueller is not given some kind of deadline, in 2024, when President Donald Trump is finishing up his second term, Mueller will still be raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night with guns drawn to get evidence that in 2016 a suspected Trump supporter went to see a Russian movie and spilled popcorn all over the seat beside them – sending a clear message to their Russian handlers either that they are really messy or that they had information to pass along. Mueller’s investigation after 10 months has already gone far afield from his task of finding evidence of illegal collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. ***** Now that former FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe has been fired, it might be a good idea to reveal why. The inspector general recommended his firing and Attorney General Jeff Sessions...

Read More

Under the Hammer: March 15, 2018

The House Intelligence Committee has completed its investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and will issue a report saying that it found no evidence of collusion. They did find evidence that some meetings were held by Trump campaign officials that should not have been held, but not of collusion. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, says they didn’t interview enough people and the 300,000 documents they reviewed were not enough, but, when asked, Schiff can’t point to any proof of collusion that the committee uncovered. It appears that Schiff, an extremely partisan Democrat, is in the same camp with special prosecutor Bob Mueller – who is supposedly nonpartisan – in believing that if they look under enough rocks eventually they are going to find something. The committee did find proof that the Hillary Clinton campaign was working with Russians to get dirt on Donald Trump and paid Russians to provide that dirt, but the mainstream media, Democrats and Mueller are not interested in the Clinton campaign colluding with Russians, only the Trump campaign. The whole thing has been a colossal waste of time and money. If this all started, as they are now saying, because Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos got drunk and started spouting off to an Australian diplomat closely linked to the Clintons about how important he was to...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: March 15, 2018

The next Schmoozefest is Thursday, March 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at
the Community Theatre of Greensboro at
520 S. Elm St. Free snacks, beer and wine will be provided to all
business professionals who sign in and get a name tag while supplies last. ***** It looks like the plan for the mess the city created when is closed Cotswold Avenue is going to be somewhat alleviated by putting a roundabout at the intersection of Old Battleground Road and Cotswold Terrace. The question city councilmembers should be asking is, why is the Greensboro Department of Transportation (GDOT) reacting to the outrage of residents in that area after the road has been closed. When Cotswold Avenue was built 20 years ago, GDOT knew it was a temporary road. As the Outer Loop moved closer, GDOT knew it was going to be closed and the traffic through the neighborhood it was built to alleviate would be back, but worse because of the development in the area. So why wasn’t anything planned? Why is the city reacting when it knew this problem was coming and something would have to be done? The only unknown was the exact date that Cotswold Avenue would be closed. There was never any doubt that it would be closed, and an approximate date has been known for years. ***** North Carolina temporary license plates have, in large print,...

Read More

Publix Distribution Center May Mean 1,000 New Jobs for Greensboro

Greensboro may soon be getting 1,000 “very well paying jobs,” according to Mayor Nancy Vaughan. Publix Super Markets Inc. is considering a site on Birch Creek Road near US 70 for a new 1.8-million-square-foot distribution center. According to a public notice advertisement for the City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 20, the City Council will hold a public hearing on granting up to $17.7 million in economic incentives to Publix in addition to spending about $3 million to extend water and sewer to the site. Vaughan said the city was expecting to get some help from the state on...

Read More

City Council Seeks to Cancel Gun and Knife Show but Pesky State Law Gets in the Way

The Greensboro City Council has plenty on its plate right now. City Manager Jim Westmoreland is retiring next month. The budget has to be passed by the end of June, which means devising a budget without the steady hand of Westmoreland on the wheel. Then there is a possibility of 1,000 new jobs – which are the City Council’s to lose – and a lawsuit over the new parking deck and hotel complex planned for February One Place, not to mention $126 million in bonds passed in 2016 waiting for direction from the council on how the money should...

Read More

City Council March 6 Meeting

Council Encourages Mind-Numbing Repetition   Boring is the best way to describe the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 6. This was the third monthly town hall meeting where the City Council has had no agenda other than listening to speakers. One difference in this meeting was that Mayor Nancy Vaughan seemed determined to solve the problems of the speakers who appeared before the City Council and – unlike other meetings where speakers are directed not to simply repeat what other speakers on the same topic have said – Vaughan allowed speakers to repeat over and over again...

Read More

High Point Moves Forward, Greensboro Dawdles

A tale of two cities and two city projects: Early in 2011, Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins said that the new performing arts center should be built downtown and should be a public-private partnership. He said the private sector could raise about $10 million to pay the extra cost of building the performing arts center downtown rather than at the Greensboro Coliseum. In 2012. plans were publicized for a performing arts center to be built where LeBauer Park is today, but the public didn’t like the plans and the decision was made that there wasn’t enough land available at that...

Read More

Parking Deck Construction on Hold, But Not Demolition

The February One Place city parking deck and Westin Hotel complex is still on hold. Superior Court Judge Andy Cromer said he would likely make a decision on a request by Rocky Scarfone for a temporary restraining order (TRO) by Feb. 16, but no decision has been announced as of March 7. The lawsuit is over an easement to the back door of Cone Denim Entertainment Center, which owner Scarfone says he needs to stay in business. The City of Greensboro agreed not to start construction on the parking deck until after a decision on the request for a...

Read More

Under the Hammer: March 8, 2018

Trump lost his chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, to his call for tariffs. People who don’t like Trump lament the loss of Cohn, but it didn’t appear that Cohn and Trump were in much agreement on economic policies anyway, so it was only a matter of time before he left. It’s not a bad idea to have someone who disagrees with your policies as an advisor, and it proves that Trump doesn’t want to surround himself with yes men. Other countries have tariffs or use other economic devices that act like tariffs. It seems to make sense, if the US wants to bring back its own manufacturing, to put tariffs on goods from other nations. We are the world’s biggest customer, so we do have some bargaining power. Trump has always said that he was going to protect American manufacturers from foreign competition. What is amazing is that Trump continues to keep his campaign promises. The liberal mainstream media act shocked every time Trump makes a move to keep another campaign promise. After over a year in office they have yet to figure out that Trump is not a politician. He didn’t run all over the country talking about what he was going to do if elected just to win. He went all over the country talking about what he was going to do because, once elected, that is...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: March 8, 2018

The Natural Resources Defense Council is running full-page newspaper ads, radio commercials and ads on the web against District 27 state Sen. Trudy Wade. That’s politics, and Wade – who is an up-and-coming leader in the Republican state Senate – is considered a good target. But the ads imply that the drinking water in Greensboro is contaminated. This simply isn’t true. Greensboro has some of the cleanest water in the state. The ad also faults Wade for requesting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) help the state with its water issues. Some North Carolina cities do have significant contaminants in their water, so doesn’t it make sense to ask for help from the EPA. Maybe the City Council should buy some ads that say “Greensboro has great water and plenty of it.” We can and should brag about the quality of the water in Greensboro. ***** Here is great idea for the state government, which has about $2 billion in its rainy day fund. The state doesn’t need $2 billion in the bank, and while that money should not be used for operating expenses, it would make sense to use some of it for a one-time expense. The North Carolina Court System really needs an updated computer system. A couple of years ago they quit chiseling messages into stone, but they aren’t far from that. This is 2018. Something...

Read More

City Manager Jim Westmoreland to Retire

Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland, who has been city manager since 2014, announced his retirement Friday, March 2 effective April 30. Westmoreland came to work for the city as a transportation planner in 1996 and was named Greensboro Department of Transportation director in 1999, a job he held until 2008 when he was promoted to assistant city manager for economic development. He left the city in 2009 to become deputy director for transit for the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and then worked for Stantec Consulting Inc. In 2012, he came back to Greensboro as the deputy city...

Read More

Few Incumbents Getting Free Ride This Year

Filing for the 2018 elections closed at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 28, which means no new candidates can be added, but it is likely that a couple will drop out. It appears the Democrats and Republicans had the same strategy, which is find somebody to run in as many races as possible, so not many incumbents are getting a free ride back into office. Voter turnout is expected to be low because the only statewide races on the ballot are for judges and there is no primary for judicial races in May. One North Carolina Supreme Court seat and...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: March 1, 2018

I learned a long time ago that you can’t trust daffodils as a sign of spring. I’ve taken too many photos of daffodils in bloom in the snow. What blooming daffodils prove is that we’ve had a couple of warm days but not that winter won’t return. However, just as I have learned not to trust daffodils, I have learned to trust trillium. In the past, the trillium in my yard has not bloomed until it really was spring, which is what makes me really nervous, because the trillium has not just poked its leaves up out of the ground, the buds have formed; and last weekend a bunch of them opened. Since it was still February when they opened, I’m wondering if I can still trust trillium or if even they have been fooled by some unseasonably warm weather. Officially, spring is still three weeks away, but the plants seem to be united in saying we’re having an early spring this year. All I know to do is wait and see if they’re right. Maybe this year it will be February showers that bring March flowers. ***** If you like the Polar Plunge photos on page 10, check out rhinotimes.com. We have a lot more. ***** The Greensboro City Council spends a lot more time lately dealing with boards and commissions. Two of the most powerful of them...

Read More

February 1 Place Parking Deck Update

The status of the February 1 Place parking deck and Westin Hotel complex is on hold. It is still waiting on a decision by NC Superior Court Judge Andrew Comer on whether to grant Rocky Scarfone, the owner of Cone Denim Entertainment Center, a temporary restraining order (TRO) to keep the city from beginning construction on the parking deck until his court case can be decided. The temporary restraining order was requested by Scarfone on Jan. 29 and Comer said that he hoped to have a decision by Feb. 16. Scarfone’s attorney Amiel Rossabi requested a second hearing from...

Read More

Under the Hammer: March 1, 2018

Judging from how the Democrats have been acting, they want to see some folks go to jail over this whole Trump-Russia collusion thing. But at this point it looks like the ones most likely to go to jail are Hillary Clinton supporters in the FBI and the Obama administration. If the Democrats were half as smart as they think they are, they would be begging President Donald Trump to stop the investigation of the special prosecutor because it looks like Bob Mueller has uncovered collusion, and it was collusion in the Obama administration to use the power of the Justice Department and the FBI to help Hillary Clinton win. The bad news is that isn’t the kind of investigator Mueller is. Mueller is the kind of investigator who decides who is guilty at the beginning of the investigation and then spends all his time ignoring the evidence that doesn’t support his belief and exaggerating evidence that does. It’s what Mueller did on the Anthrax investigation, where he ruined the life of a good, honest scientist and ignored the guy right next door who everyone else suspected was the culprit and who was. Mueller in that case followed his instincts instead of the facts and was monumentally wrong. But with the help of Democrats, the evidence is being made public that a lot of illegal activity took place. And it...

Read More

Council Must Not Think Greensboro Has Problems

If you missed the Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting of the Greensboro City Council, you didn’t miss much.   Judging from the meeting – only the third business meeting for the City Council elected last year – Greensboro doesn’t have many problems or issues worth discussing. Mayor Nancy Vaughan was absent so Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson presided, which meant the meeting started on time. The only items that were discussed at any length were the Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) percentages on contracts and making appointments to boards and commissions, which used to be perfunctory but with this...

Read More

Governor’s Slush Fund Latest Raleigh Brouhaha

State politics with a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature has had some bizarre twists and turns. A recent move by Gov. Roy Cooper has the legislature in even more of an uproar than usual. The state approved the permits to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will deliver 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to Eastern North Carolina, but only after the companies involved agreed to pay $57.8 million into a fund controlled by Cooper. The funds, which will be totally controlled by Cooper, can be used for mitigation, which Atlantic Coast Pipeline is already...

Read More

N&R Doesn’t Think Its Business Is News

I picked up my News & Record on Wednesday expecting to read about the layoffs at the News & Record that occurred Tuesday, Feb. 20, but there was no mention of it. I do know that columnist Susan Ladd and editorial writer Doug Clark were laid off from the news side of the paper, and as far as I know those were the only two; but reportedly there were four other people laid off on the business side. Lest you think otherwise, there is no celebration in the newspaper world when people get laid off, even if it is at the competition. The newspaper industry keeps shrinking. The publisher of The New York Times says that he believes the print version of that paper will be gone in 10 years. It’s a sad state of affairs. In my opinion the most important function of a free press is to inform people about what the government is doing, particularly those things that the government doesn’t want people to know. How can anyone cast an informed vote if they don’t know what their elected officials have been doing in office? I’m extremely biased, but I don’t know of a better way of finding out what is really going on in government than reading a good newspaper. I think in the current political climate we need to hear each others views. One...

Read More

City’s RFP Process Failure Rate 66.7 Percent

Here’s an interesting update on the Café Europa saga. Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson said that the request for proposal (RFP) process was being used for Café Europa because the same process had been used for the Gillespie Golf Course snack bar, with the notable exception that Gillespie Park was not turned over to a private nonprofit to manage. Since the Gillespie Park snack bar was run by an African American and Europa was run by a white male, the city couldn’t be seen as having one process for renewing food service leases for blacks and a different one for whites. What Wilson didn’t mention was that the RFP process for the Gillespie Park snack bar was a dismal failure and that the Gillespie Park snack bar had been closed for over a year. It is now in the midst of its third RFP process since the original lease expired. Wilson also mentioned that an RFP process was used for the kitchen facilities at LeBauer Park. At LeBauer Park, one of the two take-out-only restaurants is closed –   Noma Food & Co. – which along with Ghassan’s, was chosen to operate at Le Bauer Park closed. Evidently in Greensboro people don’t come to a park to eat Asian food. Everything I’ve heard about the food at Noma has been complimentary. It didn’t appear to be the quality that was...

Read More

Under the Hammer: Feb. 22, 2018

After a shooting like the one in Florida, there is always talk of banning the particular type of gun used in the shooting – which serves little purpose. There is a way to ban firearms in the US. It’s a method that has been used 27 times since the country was founded, so it’s neither common nor uncommon. Those really opposed to people owning guns should start a movement to pass a constitutional amendment, because the Second Amendment states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Until something is done about the Second Amendment, Americans, who are a self-governing people, have the right to bear arms, just like they have the right to free speech, free assembly and the free press. All of those rights can be taken away by a constitutional amendment. To me, the most amazing constitutional amendment in our history is the 18th Amendment, which passed in 1919, outlawing alcohol. I just can’t imagine people voting for that. Then, in 1933, the country came back to its senses and passed the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment. The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, passed in 1920. So in two years the country passed two constitutional amendments. I don’t think a repeal of the Second Amendment would pass, but for those who believe guns should...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: Feb. 22, 2018

The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** Thinking about the recent City Council retreat, I realized that I have been involved in a lot of business meetings where priorities had to be set and decisions had to be made. Not once in all of those meetings was I asked to put a dot beside what I thought was important. It makes me think of the joke about new car salesmen who, on slow days, made side bets on what they could get the customer to do. Like $20 to get him to get in the trunk and another $10 if you can get him to agree to let you close it. That’s my take on the dots. The city staff has bets on what they can get councilmembers to do. The person at the school board meeting years ago who got school board members to put dots on their own foreheads probably won the jackpot. Instead of dots, I think at the next retreat the city councilmembers should throw darts at a board with the priorities on them. Whatever priority gets hit with the most darts is the priority for the year. *****...

Read More

Under the Hammer: Feb. 15, 2018

The mainstream media are obsessed with the resignation of Rob Porter because of accusations of domestic abuse by two former wives.   Considering how fast the federal government does anything, the timeline that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gave to the press doesn’t seem out of line. The FBI had completed its investigation but the White House personnel office hadn’t finished with its process.  However, according to the mainstream media, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is going to be forced to resign because someone whose ex-wives reported he abused them was allowed to work at the White House until it was determined whether the allegations were true or not. They may have been abused, but you can’t believe everything that an ex-spouse says about their former marital partner.  Sometimes events get exaggerated and an ex-spouse is not usually considered unbiased. ***** But what the mainstream media are ignoring is a completely bizarre email that former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent to herself a few minutes before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 about a meeting she reportedly had with President Barack Obama, FBI Director James Comey, Vice President Joe Biden and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. At this meeting on Jan. 5, Obama, according to Rice’s email to herself, repeatedly told Comey that he wanted the investigation of Trump to be “by the book.”  Rice...

Read More

Council Retreat Shocking in its Lack of Direction

Councilmembers officially got one to two minutes to express their views on priorities at the two-day Greensboro City Council retreat held Thursday, Feb. 8 and Friday, Feb. 9 at the ACC Hall of Champions at the Coliseum’s Special Events Center. The department heads who gave presentations, like Police Chief Wayne Scott and Water Resources Director Steve Drew, were given 10 minutes each. Speakers from the floor at the first City Council meeting of each month are given five minutes each. So the department heads, some of whom have budgets of over $100 million, got just twice as long as...

Read More

John Blust Not Running But A Lot Are

So far the biggest news to come from the opening of filing for the 2018 elections at noon on Feb. 12 is who isn’t going to run. Republican State Rep. John Blust, who has been in the legislature for 20 years, has decided that he’s traveled down to Raleigh enough and is not going to run for reelection. Blust has been a thorn in the side of both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in his years down in Raleigh. He has often tried with limited success to change the way the legislature operates – with the major decisions made...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: Feb. 15, 2018

The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** Anyone who thought they were going to the Downtown Greensboro Inc. event on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the Greensboro History Museum to find out how the city was going to spend the $25 million in bond money on streetscapes downtown must have been disappointed. One thing that was emphasized repeatedly is that this is not about sidewalks and trees. Chris Benyon of MIG from Berkley, California, who has been hired by the city to supervise the spending of the $25 million, said it was about creating a place where all of Greensboro can come and play. Benyon described Greensboro as “cool place” that had a lot going for it and that this $25 million in bond money can be used to transform downtown Greensboro. Benyon is clearly a man full of energy and ideas; he showed lots of slides of parks and places all over the world that had been transformed, but the slide that he showed that received the most response was one of DGI President Zack Matheny doing yoga at First National Bank Field. ***** The News & Record is obsessed with Rockingham County,...

Read More

Cone Denim Cafe Europa Who’s Next?

It wasn’t that long ago that downtown Greensboro was deserted after 5 p.m. The only people downtown were folks working late in their offices. People didn’t come downtown to eat, drink and be merry. One reason for this, which people seem to have forgotten, was that the City Council didn’t want bars or restaurants that sold alcohol in the downtown. The City Council designated what amounted to a strip of grass in the parking lot on South Elm near McGee Street and a planter on the corner of South Elm and Washington as official city parks because there were restrictions about how close an establishment with a license to sell alcohol could be to a city park. These two “parks” made bars and restaurants that sold alcohol off limits for most of the downtown. It has long been forgotten but the N Club at 117 S. Elm St. had to get a special exemption from this law to open, and it was a close vote. The N Club was the first big club to really start bringing people downtown, and today the downtown is at times more crowded at night than during the day. Even before Joey Medaloni opened the N Club, John Rudy took a vacant restaurant space in the Cultural Center building on North Davie Street – which up until that point had turned over about once...

Read More

Rhino Shorts: Feb. 8, 2018

The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** At least we know the districts for the state House and Senate, and the decision was made a week before filing opens on Feb. 12. The courts are making it extremely tough on candidates in North Carolina. It’s particularly hard on challengers. How do you raise any money if you don’t know which district you’re going to be in? The districts in Guilford County will be the ones drawn by the special master hired by three federal court judges to take over the job the North Carolina Constitution gives to the General Assembly to draw election districts. In Wake and Mecklenburg counties, the US Supreme Court ruled that the special master’s districts shouldn’t be used and the state should use the districts drawn by the legislature. The court case will continue. This is simply a stay for this election. So in 2020, the districts could once again be different. ***** Over a hundred people attended the second Safer City Summit held by the Greensboro Police Department at the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 5, to discuss ways to reduce crime in...

Read More

City Council Can’t Resist Taking Action Despite Agreed Upon Town Hall Meeting Format

It didn’t take long for the new City Council meeting format to break down. Tuesday, Feb. 6, the City Council held its second town hall-type meeting, and the plan to only hear from the public on the first meeting of every month and conduct business at the second meeting devolved into just another meeting where the rudderless City Council starts going around in circles. At the first town hall-type meeting in January, Mayor Nancy Vaughan stopped City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson from making a motion to put a resolution on the next agenda because that wasn’t the format of the...

Read More

e-Edition

Subscribe to the Rhino!


Pin It on Pinterest